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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Says It Has 5,113 Nuclear Warheads

WASHINGTON — The United States has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile and "several thousand" more retired warheads awaiting the junk pile, the Pentagon said in an unprecedented accounting of a secretive arsenal born in the Cold War and now shrinking rapidly.

President Barack Obama's administration disclosed the size of its atomic stockpile going back to 1962 as part of a campaign to get other nuclear nations to be more forthcoming, as well as to improve its bargaining position against the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

"We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can be about the nuclear program of the United States," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Monday at the United Nations, where she addressed a conference on containing the spread of atomic weapons.

The United States had previously regarded such details as top secret.

The Pentagon said the stockpile of 5,113 as of September 2009 represents a 75 percent reduction since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and a 84 percent drop fr om a peak of 31,225 in 1967.

The figure includes warheads that are operationally deployed, kept in active reserve and held in inactive storage. But it does not include "several thousand" warheads that are now retired and awaiting dismantlement, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters at the Pentagon.

The official declined to offer the Pentagon's estimate for Russia's arsenal and renewed calls for greater transparency by China, saying there was "little visibility" when it came to Beijing's nuclear program.

The disclosure comes less than a month after Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev signed the landmark New START arms reduction accord that sets a lim it of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads for each side, down from 2,200 under a 2002 deal.

Independent analysts estimate the total world stockpile of nuclear warheads at more than 22,000. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that nearly 8,000 of those warheads are operational, with about 2,000 U.S. and Russian warheads ready for use on short notice.

(AP, Reuters)